June 12, 2013 | News, Op-Eds

The Future of the Global Economy Depends on the U.S.-EU Trade Deal

The Huffington Post Blog
The Future of the Global Economy Depends on the U.S.-EU Trade Deal
Posted:  07/12/2013 11:29

The future of the global economy is at stake. With both the United States (U.S.) and the European Union (EU) economies generating over $15.6 trillion in GDP and accounting for about half of the entire world GDP, we must pay close attention to negotiations for the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

Slated to be the largest trade deal ever negotiated once completed, TTIP would not only spur economic growth and job creation in the U.S. and the EU but also serve as a blueprint for future negotiations between third country trading partners. Given the magnitude of this trade deal, the Internet Association urges the U.S. and EU to incorporate policies that sustain the Internet industry’s future — a proven catalyst for economic growth.

Reaching 2 billion users across the globe and facilitating about 8 trillion dollars in e-commerce annually, the Internet affords market access to new competitors and revolutionizes daily transactions. Once dominated by traditional industries, small and mid-sized businesses now have the ability, because of the Internet, to participate in the global market. A McKinsey Global Institute study found that small and mid-sized enterprises reap significant benefits from Internet use. More specifically, the total revenue shares earned from small and mid-sized exports that utilized the Internet was more than twice that of others.

The flourishing Internet economy, which the global economy relies upon, is made possible by laws that preserve the vitality of an open, consumer-oriented platform. U.S. and EU negotiators must ensure that TTIP reflects this modernized landscape by enacting policies that encourage growth in the Internet industry and ultimately across global markets.

First, being able to access information or transfer data no matter the country where the information originated allows businesses in every sector to flourish. From instant communication to prompting real-time responses in business operations, providing businesses with the capacity to share data across borders increases efficiency and productivity.  Free flowing data also plays an important role in a company’s ability to innovate by creating an open, collaborative environment. Despite these benefits, many governments have adopted restrictive policies preventing the free flow of information. Historically, the European Union falls under this category of taking a prescriptive approach to data flows. The EU policy is to restrict international data flows unless there is a legitimate reason to free its data — which is the opposite approach taken by the U.S.

Recent developments regarding the National Security Agency’s programs may complicate the TTIP negotiations; however, The Internet Association and our member companies believe that enabling cross border data flows does not eliminate privacy or compromise data protection. Already, efforts such as the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) are addressing the issue of balancing privacy without unduly burdening cross border data flows. TTIP presents an opportunity for the world’s leading economies to commit to a workable, flexible framework that will be sustainable for the vitality of our global economic future.

Second, we encourage the U.S. government to revise its IP agenda and promote the appropriate balance of copyright and trademark protection with strong, fair-use like principles. We appreciate the U.S. proposal to add balancing language in the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, but we ask that the government also support similar flexible elements and balances in TTIP if an IP chapter is included. Further, the Internet Association encourages the U.S. to protect online intermediaries from third-party liability, which has allowed for the successful growth of Internet companies in the U.S.

Lastly, we call on both governments to ensure that TTIP negotiations are as open and as transparent as possible, particularly if the agreement includes a copyright component. Given the potential economic benefits and this changing landscape where an Internet user can engage in commerce in the same way as a multi-national corporation, consumers have a strong interest in these negotiations and deserve to know the details as this process develops.

The Internet industry increasingly harnesses a large percentage of advanced economies’ GDP. As trading partners enter into deals, these economies must ensure that Internet-friendly policies are incorporated not just for the benefit of the Internet industry but also for the benefit of their market, citizens, and their economic future. Negotiators must take this opportunity to craft a trade deal worthy of our modern economy.

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